Sunday, April 14, 2013

Emanuel Lutheran Church

300 South Montana
Built: 1916

Immigrants to Butte during the mining boom often lived, socialized, and worshiped with fellow nationals. Swedish Lutherans first congregated in 1896, and in 1901 they built a small wooden chapel on the back of this lot. They quickly outgrew the building, which was a mattress factory when it burned in 1937. In 1912, the congregation, which kept its early records in Swedish, began construction of this brick church at a cost of $15,000. It was completed and dedicated in 1916.

Modest compared to neighboring St. Mark’s (a German Lutheran church), Emanuel Lutheran’s most prominent feature is its octagonal spire, which rests on a wooden tower ornamented with pinnacles and projecting gables. The steep pitch of the gables, lancet-arched tracery windows, and diagonal buttresses capped with contrasting sandstone trim all mark the church’s design as Gothic Revival. Butte Unity Truth Center, a nondenominational Christian church, purchased the building in 1958 when Emanuel Lutheran followed its congregants to the flats. By then Emanuel Lutheran no longer exclusively served Swedes; its days as an immigrant church—bringing comfort to worshipers far from home—were over. The Unity Center continues to use the building in 2013.

Modified from historic plaque text by Montana Historical Society. Photo by Richard Gibson.

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